Australia and New Zealand are considering playing Bledisloe Cup matches in Denver and Tokyo over the next two years after the success of this weekend’s Hong Kong Test, officials said on Friday.
Australian rugby boss John O’Neill and New Zealand’s Steve Tew said they would discuss the fixtures here in an effort to promote the sport globally.
“We’ve got several opportunities in front of us for 2009 and 2010, not necessarily Bledisloe Cup games but for additional games for the All Blacks,” Tew told journalists.
“We’re working through those quite seriously. The Denver game has been mentioned in the media. It’s fair to say both Australia and New Zealand have ticked the box that we should explore that further and we will have discussions on that this week.” O’Neill said talks were also continuing with officials from Japan, which has announced bids for the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cups.
“We have got a formal proposal from Denver in the United States to host the Bledisloe Cup next year,” he told the South China Morning Post.
“We are also talking to the Japanese about the possibility of holding the game in 2010 in Tokyo.” O’Neill also said he could imagine the final of the southern hemisphere’s Super 14 provincial championship moving around the region.
“Neutral venues for Tri-Nations games is not something we would be in favour of but I think down the track the potential for a neutral venue for the final of Super rugby is not a bad idea,” he said.
The 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium is a virtual sell-out for Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup match, the first outside of Australia and New Zealand, with reported revenues of up to 70 million Hong Kong dollars (nine million US).
Tew said such games would have to become regular events if rugby is to expand globally.
“If we’re going to grow the game into new markets seriously it doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.
“Just one match won’t do it in Asia. This will just be the start. We have to put our money where our mouth is and play some matches.”